Was Gandalf a Tree Hugger?

10 Climate Change Resources You May Have Missed the First Time Around | ISSUE 25, Nov. 4, 2019

Some days, I curl up in a fetal ball with my aging cat after touring that day’s intense climate headlines. Other days, I gently interrupt her catnap. I dash to my Mac to highlight climate resources worth a second look—in case you missed them the first time. Here’s an occasional Changing Climate Times series: “10 Climate Resources You May Have Missed the First Time Around.” If you’re new to exploring climate change these resources might be a good place to start. If you are more informed about climate change these resources might be worth sharing with others.

1 | CLIMATE QUOTE: What Gandalf said

“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”~Gandalf


I have a personal theory that all the metaphors we need to address climate change can be found in “Lord of the Rings.” You must admit, Gandalf could well be addressing the most pressing issue facing our species in 2019—and not the most pressing one facing Middle Earth and the return of the evil Sauron. What will each of us do about climate change?

“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo. “So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

2 | CLIMATE MEME: Start With the Heart

Please steal this meme. | changingclimatetimes.substack.com


I made this meme after seeing this succinct quote by climate scientist and communicator Katharine Hayhoe. It’s from a popular 2018 TED talk, chock full of good advice. The core of her talk is we all need to be talking—with each other and in our communities—about the threat a rapidly heating planet poses to our shared lives. That’s regardless of how we identify politically or socially:

The most important thing to do is, instead of starting up with your head, with all the data and facts in our head, to start from the heart, to start by talking about why it matters to us, to begin with genuinely shared values. Are we both parents? Do we live in the same community? Do we enjoy the same outdoor activities: hiking, biking, fishing, even hunting? Do we care about the economy or national security?

After having had thousands of climate conversations, Hayhoe notes that “just about every single person in the world already has the values they need to care about a changing climate. They just haven't connected the dots. And that's what we can do through our conversation with them.” | READ ON

3 | CLIMATE NEWSLETTER: Crowdsourcing Conversations

Fellow newsletter editor Ryan Hagan’s “Crowdsourcing Sustainability” is an inspiring, practical read. His latest issue picks up on Hayhoe’s theme—everyone needs to be talking more widely about climate change. But most people, notes Hagan, are not discussing climate change, despite the riptide of headlines:

A majority of people believe it’s happening (67%). Only 16% don’t think it’s happening. And a majority of people are worried about it (60%). But hardly anyone is talking about it (only 23% talk about it at least once a month… 63% of people rarely or never talk about it).

Hagan dips into some social science about why this may be so. Yale and George Mason researchers suggest there is “a spiral of climate silence.” Even people who care about the issue shy away from discussing it because they so infrequently hear other people talking about it—reinforcing the spiral, he writes:

… Before we can solve anything, we need to start talking about it way more than we are right now. So, if you’re not already, I encourage you to speak up. It’s one of the most powerful things we can do. | READ ON

4 | CLIMATE VIDEO: ‘But What Can I Do?’

First, view the inspiring video below. Then, pass it forward. If you’re a teacher, show it in class. If a parent, share with kids. If a youth activist, share it with older folks. The video is by Megan Herbert, co-author with climate scientist Michael E. Mann of the award-winning children’s book “The Tantrum That Saved the World.” (We profiled the book in Issue 7, Item 6.)

5 | CLIMATE Q-AND-A: No More Excuses

Naomi Oreskes: ‘It is deeply problematic if the leadership of the US government is rejecting science.’ Photograph: Phil Penman | The Guardian, Nov. 3, 2019


Strategies of climate change denial morph constantly. They range from disputing confirmed climate science outright, to Exxon’s misdirection and misinformation even though their own scientists forecast climate change as far back as the 1980s.

Naomi Oreskes, a Harvard professor of the history of science, is best known as co-author with Erik Conway of “Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming.” The book traced tactics used by professional climate deniers. In her new book “Why Trust Science?,”  Oreskes argues that if more people heard scientists talk personally about their values, it would help turn back the creeping tide of anti-science sentiment.

She recently testified to Congress on “Examining the Oil Industry’s Efforts to Suppress the Truth about Climate Change” and “Dark Money and Barriers to Climate Action.” She is blunt about climate change denial and the importance of the peer-reviewed science that has proven time and time again climate change is no theory:

“Human-induced climate change is under way. It’s no longer a matter of trust; our scientists have been shown to be right. Climate change deniers have run out of excuses.”~Naomi Oreskes | READ ON

6 | CLIMATE MAP: Water, Water, Everywhere

The heart of Shanghai, one of Asia’s most important economic centers, could be underwater by 2050, unless global temperatures are not brought under control, easing melting ice that raises sea levels. | New York Times


A New York Times story published last week was shocking. It wasn’t the words—which were daunting enough. But the maps:

Rising seas could affect three times more people by 2050 than previously thought, according to new research, threatening to all but erase some of the world’s great coastal cities.

New satellite techniques have created more accurate maps of how disastrous rising sea levels will be to coastal cities and deltas, from Alexandria to Mumbai, Basra to Shanghai. The research shows 150 million people—that’s almost half the population of the United States—now live on land that will be below the high-tide line by 2050.

Countries should start preparing now for more citizens to relocate internally, says Dina Ionesco of the International Organization for Migration:

“We’ve been trying to ring the alarm bells,” Ms. Ionesco said. “We know that it’s coming.” There is little modern precedent for this scale of population movement, she added.

These maps should be required study for anyone in any position of authority anywhere in the world right now.

7 | CLIMATE TWEETS: How We’re Going to Live

So, what can you or I do? Maybe reinvent what you do and how you do it:

Plus, some good advice from the same Twitter thread:

8 | CLIMATE GLOSSARY: “Predatory Delay”

I’ve been collecting illuminating climate-related coinages toward creation of a “Climate Change Glossary.” Alex Steffens’ phrase, “predatory delay,” describes a host of go-slow economic and political strategies to ward off the World War II-style mobilization needed to address climate change.

The phrase also speaks to decades-old tactics by the fossil fuel industrial complex, to preserve its billions-of-dollar business model—even as Earth heads into anaphylactic shock:

We’ve allowed these opponents of progress to define what the future can be. The best way to keep people from demanding change is to convince them that change is impossible. The best way to convince them nothing can change is to make sure they can’t visualize what change would look like. Billions of dollars buys a lot of blindness. We live in a time of mobilized deception, of predatory delay.

Steffans’ describes himself as a “planetary futurist.” He stresses the importance of imagining “heroic futures.” He wrote the following words in 2016, but they are ever more pressing:

We’re racing against catastrophe. Before we can win, we’ll need a cultural moment when millions of people — designers, artists, engineers, entrepreneurs, planners, politicians — dream in public about choosing a better way, and become a movement to fight for it. What could that Zeitgeist be like? Imagining that is now every bit as critical as, say, inventing better solar panels — because now every successful future involves not only making things never before made, but changing things never before changed. That is the future we must learn to see. | READ ON

9 | CLIMATE BOOKS: Building Resilience

’Resilience’ is a key word in maintaining a healthy outlook for one’s mental health. It’s also a good watchword for preparing cities, communities and countries for the rising stress and challenges of climate change.

The magazine The Revelator has an article recommending November’s best environmental reads, including ones on climate adaptation, wildlife coexistence, the Green New Deal and climate resilience. The books all stress a theme that is also the theme of this newsletter: ‘We’re stronger together than apart.’

A new book by former Obama administration officials focuses on ways to reduce or minimize climate disruption and build resilient systems that can survive and persist: “Building a Resilient Tomorrow: How to Prepare for the Coming Climate Disruption” by Alice C. Hill and Leonardo Martinez-Diaz 

For those thirsting for real-world solutions that are already being tried and tested, this is the book, said one reviewer:

“While squarely confronting the scale of the risks we face, this pragmatic guide focuses on solutions—some gradual and some more revolutionary—currently being deployed around the globe.

“The narrative is dotted with tales of on-the-ground citizenry, from small-town mayors and bankers to generals and engineers, who are chipping away at financial disincentives and bureaucratic hurdles to prepare for life on a warmer planet. For readers exhausted by today's paralyzing debates on yearly "fluke" storms or the existence of climate change, Building a Resilient Tomorrow offers better ways to manage the risks in a warming planet, even as we work to limit global temperature rise.”

10 | CLIMATE CARTOON: T.G.I.F

PS | Pass It Forward

If this issue was forwarded to you, subscribe for free to the newsletter & podcast at: changingclimatetimes.substack.com. Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes and wherever you listen to podcasts. | Follow us on Twitter at @TimesClimate | Send feedback and suggestions to: douglasjohnmartin AT icloud.com.

And remember:

Change the World. Not the big one. The one in which you live. And love. Be well. | CCT Curator, Concierge and Host Douglas John Imbrogno

Now, the Good Climate Crisis News

$11 Trillion Later, the Fossil Free Movement Rolls On | ISSUE 24, Oct. 5, 2019

We’re kidding. There is no “good” climate news—if we look only at how unnervingly fast the climate crisis is unfolding. If we see only the head-in-the-sand response of politicians whose rule depends on the mighty fossil fuel industrial complex. As one commentator noted on the podcast “My Climate Journey”:

“Climate action is against the law in most places.”
(Thanks to Crowdsourcing Sustainability for the link).

But, wait. A huge global climate strike just happened. The marches on Sept. 20, 2019, have been called among the largest in human history. Climate correspondent Eric Holthaus summed up the strike in some memorable numbers. More than 3 million people marched. In more than 3,000 cities. In more than 160 countries.

Please steal this climate meme.

1 | DE-FUNDING ‘CLIMATE CHAOS’

Good climate news also includes the growing climate change dis-investment campaign. If you’re not following global climate campaigner Bill McKibben’s Twitter feed, do so ASAP. He keeps a tick-tock tally of investment funds and institutions that have begun to yank money from the fossil fuel industry.

In September, McKibben’s 350.org announced that the Fossil Free divestment campaign passed $11 trillion in portfolios and endowments. For perspective’s sake, that's larger than the GDP of every nation on Earth except the U.S. and China. The effort includes more than 1,100 institutions:

Assets committed to divestment have leapt from $52 billion in 2014 to more than $11 trillion today—a stunning increase of 22,000 percent. Institutions committed to divestment include sovereign wealth funds, banks, global asset managers and insurance companies, cities, pension funds, health care organizations, universities, faith groups and foundations.

The campaign is part of a larger strategy, the report explains. Banks like France’s Credit Agricole are cutting off financing to fossil fuel projects. One bank industry watchdog described this in a memorable phrase as “coal realism”:

“Too many banks are still unwilling to decouple themselves from the industry which is the number one biggest threat to the climate globally and which is now on economic life support.”~Greg Aitken, coal campaigner at BankTrack

Meanwhile, some big insurance firms now balk at underwriting coal projects. Lack of insured capital then creates a chokehold on new CO2-spewing projects that perpetuate what 350.org dubs “climate chaos.” As its report notes: “Without bank loans, insurance and investments — the fossil fuel industry hits a wall.”

For a layman’s explainer on tackling climate change at the dollar level, see McKibben’s New Yorker article, “Money Is the Oxygen on Which the Fire of Global Warming Burns.” A sample insight:

I suspect that the key to disrupting the flow of carbon into the atmosphere may lie in disrupting the flow of money to coal and oil and gas … It’s possible to imagine [the banking, asset management and insurance] industries, given that the world is now in existential danger, quickly jettisoning their fossil-fuel business. It’s not easy to imagine—capitalism is not noted for surrendering sources of revenue.

Then again, he acidly notes, “the Arctic ice sheet is not noted for melting.”

2 | ‘AN OBLIGATION TO ACT’

Are you a recently woke climate marcher? An alarmed Joe-or-Jane? A spooked under-30-something? A worried-for-your-grandkids-Grandma-or-Grandpa? Looking for something local to work on?

Pick an institution with which you have a connection. Your church or temple? Your bank? Your college? Your pension fund? (See 350.org’s report for more ideas.) Push that $11 trillion divestment number higher. Here are some inspirational case studies.


THE ROYAL SHAKESPEARE COMPANY: “To thine own self be true…”

WHO: The esteemed Royal Shakespeare Company will end its partnership with BP at the end of 2019, following criticism of its links to the international oil giant.
QUOTE/UNQUOTE: BP has subsidized the Stratford-on-Avon-based theatre company's £5 ticket price for 16 to 25-year-olds since 2011, a £7.5 million subsidy. Last week, students threatened to boycott the company if it didn’t sever links with BP. "Young people are now saying clearly to us that the BP sponsorship is putting a barrier between them and their wish to engage with the RSC," a company statement read. BP responded that they are sad. A statement said the company was "disappointed and dismayed" its partnership had been brought to a "premature" end.
IF YOU’RE JUST TUNING IN: Earlier this year, Sir Mark Rylance, a long-standing critic of the sponsorship agreement, resigned from his post as an RSC associate artist. The Oscar-winning actor said he did not "wish to be associated with BP any more than I would with an arms dealer [or] tobacco salesman.”

THE UNIVERSITY OF YORK: “Some things change at least…”

WHO: One of the United Kingdom’s leading universities, The University of York, announced early this month it has divested from all fossil fuels.
QUOTE/UNQUOTE: “We face a global climate emergency,” said Vice-Chancellor Charlie Jeffrey. “We have brilliant expertise, including among our students, who are often passionate about tackling that emergency, and we have an obligation to act.”
IF YOU’RE JUST TUNING IN: If you feel like Don Quixote, tilting madly at climate windmills, note this. Environmental policy journalist Gareth Simkins wrote the University of York’s first environmental audit way back in 2001. “Divestment from fossil fuels was one of my recommendations—though I knew it was never going to fly at the time,” Simkins noted on Twitter. “Some things change, at least.”

3 | ‘ExxonKnew’

How much money did you earn from July to August 2018? We’ll wait as you run the numbers… Was it $5,000? $10,000? Less? More? Here’s how much ExxonMobil made in those 90 days: $6.2 billion.

Let’s see all those zeros printed out: $6,200,000,000. Or, if you prefer, $68,888,888—a day. Such numbers explain something else. They explain how Exxon’s own scientists knew as early as 1981 about the coming onslaught of climate change—then buried the science in misdirection and misinformation. That’s why there’s a popular Twitter hashtag: #ExxonKnew. Or Google the phrase for many more hits.

4 | ‘You Have To Trust Me’

It’s not as if fossil fuel firms don’t see the handwriting on the wall. They’re not—to quote an Irishman hoisting a Guinness—'‘eed-jits.” They devote whole retreats to the pressing matter of the future of fossil fuel-ing. One such event was described in a Financial Times article with the colorful headline: Royal Dutch Shell Searches for a Purpose Beyond Oil: Anglo-Dutch company faces dilemma as world shuns fossil fuels

Shell honchos were asked to ponder: ‘What should one of Earth’s largest oil and gas companies look like in several decades?’ (Should we humans survive “climate chaos,” that is.) Ben van Beurden, the 61-year-old head of Shell, described the discussion this way: “What do we want to be? What do we want to be known for?” The “single biggest” regret for the Shell boss would be abandoning its oil and gas business prematurely, he says in the article.

That, he says starkly, is something Shell “could not live with”.

That comment earned the Twitter equivalent of a Molotov cocktail from Bill McKibben. He printed the quote, then noted simply: “Clinically amoral.”

In Changing Climate Times tweets, we’ve suggested some of the most influential climate activists might be found in living rooms of fossil fuel CEOs after work. The FT story describes just such an encounter.

When Van Beurden’s daughter was nine or 10, she returned from school in tears after somebody told her oil and gas companies were destroying the world and only Greenpeace could save the planet.

“So why don’t we give [all of our] money to Greenpeace, papa?” she said. Too young to engage in debate over carbon taxes and the responsibility of all governments, consumers and corporate polluters, the Shell boss replied: “You have to trust me.”

Winning the trust of all of Shell’s competing stakeholders, the article concludes, “will be much harder.”

5 | ‘A Variety of Fronts’

If you’re old as dirt, this divestment stuff may sound vaguely familiar. That’s because it is. The campaign recalls the global effort to pressure South Africa to abandon apartheid. That campaign helped lead the South African Government to start negotiations resulting in apartheid’s dismantling.

For a good perspective on how global campaigns on multiple fronts can move mountains, see this recollection by human rights advocate Cecelie Counts, a founder of the Southern Africa Support Project. In words that offer a birds-eye perspective to climate activism, she writes:

It's easy to see parallels between the current divestment campaigns over climate change and guns, and the earlier campaign to divest from companies doing business with apartheid South Africa. But as important as divestment was in ending apartheid, that campaign came after and during a very broad and well-engaged struggle on a variety of fronts.

Desmond Tutu, a key figure in the apartheid campaign, had a striking thing to say recently about the threat to the human race and more than a million other species on Earth posed by the climate crisis.

Climate change, said the good bishop “is the apartheid of our times.”

PS | You Promised Cartoons

I did, back in Issue 1 in November 2018. This cartoon is awfully apropos for Issue 24:

By Dan Piraro | Bizzaro.com


If this issue was forwarded to you, subscribe for free to the newsletter & podcast at: changingclimatetimes.substack.com. Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes and wherever you listen to podcasts. | Follow us on Twitter at @TimesClimate | Send feedback and suggestions to: douglasjohnmartin AT icloud.com.

And remember:

Change the World. Not the big one. The one in which you live. And love. Be well.CCT Curator, Concierge and Host Douglas John Imbrogno

The Art of Global Climate Striking

A Roundup of Global Climate Strike Posters, Quotes & Resources | ISSUE 23, Sep. 16, 2019

Thousands of events are planned across planet Earth for the Global Climate Strike, from Sept. 20, 2019 through Sept. 27. It speaks to the growing concern about the climate crisis that the event began as a single-day planetary strike. It has grown into a week’s worth of climate-focused happenings.

And it has grown further. The Secretary General of ⁦‪Amnesty‬⁩ International has written to more than 30,000 schools, asking them to allow students to participate in climate strikes.

Plus, it’s not just students and a fresh crop of activated adults. As Bill McKibben’s 350.org climate movement notes, a whole bunch of companies, organizations, trade unions and countries (almost 120 countries and counting) are taking part. Check out the cool video below.

1 | Climate Strike Resources

If you need ready-made climate strike posters or inspiration, visit the GlobalClimateStrike Arts Kit page:

350 dot org@350
NEW #ClimateStrike posters ready to go in the Arts Kit >>
fal.cn/33Pv2 Also in the kit: ✔️ Art-making how-to guides to create your own beautiful visuals ✔️ Top tips on getting a great photo ✔️ Climate protest song books and music tips ✔️ Creating bold street murals

2 | Strike Now, While the Planet is Hot

If you’re taking part in a Climate Strike event, be sure it’s listed on the two strike-week online calendars I’ve found so far: GlobalClimateStrike.net and StrikeWithUs.org.

Here is one of my favorite climate strike images by cartoonist Judy Horacek.

3 | Dear Teacher …

But maybe you need to let your teacher know you’ll be taking off from history class on Friday, to stand up for the future history of Earth? Meteorologist and climate writer Eric Holthaus has your back:

PS | Climate and water scientist Peter Gleick may have posted the original ‘absent from class’ tweet. While atmospheric chemist Dr. Heather Price also offers up “A Note from a Doctor” on Twitter.

4/ Climate Homework

If you wish to brush up on your climate crisis talking points or are a teacher, here are three suggested resources.

A) FOR TEACHERS AND CLASSROOMS, here’s a link to a bunch of Climate Crisis Education Day resources. And here’s one for useful resources on climate education.

B) Here’s an overview on climate change by Tom Bawden, part of Covering Climate Now, a global collaboration of more than 250 news outlets to deepen coverage of the climate story.

C) And here’s a mega-thread by “Peter Believes in Science Not Dogma,” which includes a roundup of reputable, fact-based sources on human-caused climate change:

5 | Circle Round the Planet

Here’s a poster for a strike rally in the capital of West Virginia. The event is co-sponsored by this newsletter, with a striking nature photo made to look like planet Earth, from a series by David Imbrogno.


~"Hope is something you need to deserve... If we decided today that we were going to go through with combating climate change, then we definitely could do that. But only if we choose to and if we take the measures required." ~Greta Thunberg

6 | Taking Care of the Earth

Since Greta Thunberg first launched her climate strike in late 2018, (The Kids Are Alright: The Youngster Climate Crusade), #ClimateTwitter has seen an influx of climate action teenagers raising their voices. Here’s a short, rousing call-to-action by the 17-year-old Otomi-Toltec climate justice activist Xiye Bastida:

7 | 2,000 and Counting

Here’s how fast things are moving on the global climate strike. ClimateAction.tech, which describes itself as “a global community of tech professionals” focused on the climate crisis, noted in a Sept. 12 tweet that 1,000 sites were showing a public-facing message in solidarity with the strike. A tweet today noted it was up to 2,000.

Author Naomi Klein, whose well-timed book “ON FIRE: The Burning Case for a Green New Deal”, goes on sale this week, noted about the involvement of the tech industry in a tweet: “Tech workers striking from within their high carbon sector. This is such a very good development!!!”

8 | How About You?

Here’s a colorful climate strike poster, posted by “environmental strategist and climate tactician” Tamara Toles O’Laughlin: (I love “climate tactician.” Borrowing…)

9 | ‘We Don’t Leave Our Schools Lightly…’

I love this short video. Young folks take on five myths about the global climate strike. Such as: ‘The climate strike is just a way to slip school’ and ‘The climates strikes are just for young people and not adults.’ If you don’t click the video, here’s 17-year-old Joe from Wiltshire England, responding to that first myth:

“Our education system today doesn’t equip us with the skills or knowledge to meet the climate crisis. We don’t leave our schools lightly. But we must make the climate crisis an educational priority.”~Joe, Devizes, England

10 | Enough Said

As for whether the global climate strike is just kids stuff, this 97-year-old World War II veteran makes his feelings known.

PS | People Power = Powerful People

Here’s an instantly classic climate strike line: “People power is just as important as powerful people!” (That must be borrowed from a prior social movement, yes?)

The result of the global climate strike week is certainly aimed at urging powerful people to care. And to urge caring folks to assert power in numbers.

PSS | You Promised Cartoons.

I did.

This cartoon is by writer/illustrator Megan Herbert, who teamed up with climate scientist Michael E. Mann on the children’s climate change book “The Tantrum That Saved the World” (See Item 6).


If this issue was forwarded to you, subscribe to the newsletter & podcast at: changingclimatetimes.substack.com. Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes and wherever you listen to podcasts. | Follow us on Twitter at @TimesClimate | Send feedback and suggestions to: douglasjohnmartin AT icloud.com.

And remember:
Change the World. Not the big one. The one in which you live. And love. PS: And strike.

Be well. | CCT Curator, Concierge and Host Douglas John Imbrogno

As the World Burns | Podcast Edition

  
0:00
-10:03

The Amazon Rainforest Fires and the Hamburger Connection | ISSUE 22-p (for podcast), Aug. 23, 2019 | Podcast Episode 4

NOTE: The following text contains some content not featured on the podcast above, plus links and longer excerpts to articles mentioned. The podcast script is adapted from Issue 22 of Changing Climate Times. Thanks to Kyle Vass for primo podcast coaching. (Check out his work at exchange.prx.org/user/kylevass)

INTRODUCTION | ‘As the World Burns’

What you’re hearing on this podcast is the sound of a thunderstorm last night that broke overtop the roof of my house. I used to love the sound of thunderstorms. Still do. But if you’re like me, if you’re tuned into the latest, greatest news about climate change, you can’t help but wonder every time you hear a storm.

Especially a big one.

Is this storm more extreme than the ones I used to love as a kid? Is this yet another crazy weather event, juiced by our drastically changing climate? A climate which according to an overwhelming majority of climate scientists has turbocharged forest fires, hurricanes and floods? 

Dammit, you can’t even enjoy a nice crackling thunderstorm without wondering if it’s a signal of the climate End Times, come to your neighborhood!

Now, I don’t know if last night’s thunderstorm was just your average thunderstorm. But what IS clear, according to people who study such things for a living, is that the forest fires currently raging in the Amazon rainforest are most certainly NOT your average forest fires.

Which brings us to this special edition of Changing Climate Times podcast titled “As the World Burns.”

CHAPTER ONE | House Fire

My friend, Ryan Hagan, also publishes a climate change newsletter. It’s called Crowdsourcing Sustainability. There was something that caught my eye in his most recent issue last Friday. He wrote:

“Civilization’s house is on fire and needs to be put out ASAP.” 

Of course, what Ryan was talking about is the Earth at large. But within days of writing those words news of fires in the Amazon rainforest caught the world’s attention.

The Amazon rainforest is so big it includes 10 percent of the world’s biodiversity and produces 20 percent of Earth's total oxygen. That’s why it is called "the Lungs of the World." 

Just to visualize its size, if we were able to relocate the Amazon to America, it would be as big as the 48 contiguous United States, minus Alaska and Hawaii. 

It sprawls across almost half the entire South American continent. The current fires are so widespread they can be seen from outer space. Here’s a time-lapse video of the fires created from NASA satellite imagery over 90 days by Joaquin Beltran:

Those blood-red flares that leap up all across the heartland of South America are showing us something. 

Or telling us something. 

To borrow my friend Ryan’s phrase: ‘Hey, Civilization! Our house is on fire!!’

And what if I were to tell you that we’ve set our house on fire because we want a cheeseburger. 

CHAPTER TWO | Would You Like Fries with That?

You’ll hear pushback from climate deniers that such fires are seasonal in the rainforest. But as Greenpeace forest campaigner Juman Kubba told the BBC in this audio piece, “Why Is the Amazon Burning?” and in this BBC article, the politics of Brazil and corporate supply lines that feed the maw of fast-food chains, play a key role in torching the Amazon.

Kubba said there has been a 145 percent increase in fires in 2019 compared to last year, with the rise to power of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. As the BBC piece notes:

Forest fires are common from July to October. But activists say Brazilian President Bolsonaro’s policies have encouraged farmers to clear land for crops or grazing—resulting in an increase in fires.

“The scale of this is new,” says Kubba. “The rate which were seeing fires is unprecedented. That’s incredible growth … This is the lungs of the planet that are on fire.”

Vast sections of the Amazon rainforest are being burned out to raise crops linked to international trade. Says Kubba: “When we go to big fast-food giants like KFC, McDonalds or Burger King, the burgers that we eat will be coming from animals that are fed on animal feed which is grown in places like Brazil.”

Those fast-food mega-corporations “have tremendous power to influence what is being done and not done in Brazil,” says Kubba. “So, we should be asking them to change their ways.”

At the level of international trade, that also means putting a hold on trade agreements, Kubba says, until the Amazon rainforest is protected “and we really have environmental and human rights protection at the heart of trade deals.”

CHAPTER THREE | Enter the boycott

Whenever I talk about climate change, a common reply is: “Just tell me what to do!”  

Writer Nylah Burton is telling folks what to do. In a  recent Twitter  thread, she said: “If you want to do something  about the #AmazonRainforest and the killing of indigenous people, the easiest and most impactful thing you can do is stop eating beef.”

Now, that sounds way too easy. But Burton is not being glib and superficial.

Burton expanded upon her tweet in an article in Medium titled “The Amazon Rainforest Is Burning and You Can Help: Stop Eating Beef: The time for change is right now.” She writes:

“The boycott is a tried and true  method of resistance. But if you live in Europe, China, the United  States, Canada, or Australia, you may think your boycott can’t help save  the Amazon rainforest, or support the Indigenous people of Brazil.

“But  your money—especially if you eat beef and other meats—is almost  certainly funding the degradation of the Amazon rainforest.

Burton mentions a report by the Articulation of the Indigenous Peoples of Brazil. It talks about consumer involvement in eating beef that may be sourced from the Amazon rainforest. The report is titled “Complicity In Destruction II: How Northern Consumers and Financiers Enable Bolsonaro’s Assault on the Brazilian Amazon.”

It details the Indigenous-led call for people in the countries mentioned to boycott certain Brazilian products and businesses that invade their lands.

So, let’s unpack this idea of ‘complicity.’  Complicity is “the involvement as an accomplice in a questionable act or a crime.”

I don’t know about you, but I don’t think of myself as a criminal when I pick up a Happy Meal or french fries at a fast-food drive up.

But stick with the argument here. The Amazon Rainforest—remember, it’s ‘The Lungs of the World’— is key to the health and well-being of the entire planet. Can YOU and I live without our lungs?

I didn’t think so.

So, indigenous people in the Amazon rainforest are calling on us consumers to boycott certain Brazilian products and businesses.  They want us to stop supporting businesses that invade the rainforest and engage in illegal deforestation for profit.

Burton’s article goes on to note:

There are many Brazilian products that are contributing to deforestation, like timber and fossil fuels. But beef is an incredibly easy product to boycott—barring any medical or cultural needs that require beef consumption, of course.

CHAPTER FOUR | Getting Beyond Beef

It may be a bridge too far for committed carnivores to immediately stop eating beef. 

But for folks trying to transition away from eating so much meat, consider this. Perhaps crack open that door by first cutting back. 

You could start by voting for non-beef vegetarian substitutes like Burger King’s Impossible Burger. The burger is made from soy which has its own environmental issues. The report by the Indigenous Peoples of Brazil also fingers the soy industry in Amazon deforestation. Just like beef, soy is a multibillion profit machine, generating more than $30 billion for Brazil.

But we have to start somewhere and kudos to fast-food giant Burger King for baby steps.

You might try the pretty amazing Beyond Burger. Unlike most other “veggie” hamburger-like patties made from soy, Beyond Burgers are made of pea protein. They recently released version 2.0. It’s an even fattier blend and it is plain scrumptious.

And that blood in the frying pan? Elsie the Cow and tracts of rainforest were  not sacrificed for your Beyond Burger. It’s beet juice. 

And no, I’m not on retainer for Beyond Burgers. But the company is welcome to send me any new products they launch. 

Isn’t it time for Beyond Tofurkey?

CHAPTER FIVE | Time for Tactics

The drumbeat of all this climate change news can feel overwhelming. There’s a reason there’s a growing field devoted to “eco-despair.” 

But taking action, however small and local—or maybe especially local, in your town, in my town—can be an antidote to such despair.

You know about Banksy, the great anonymous graffiti artist whose work just appears here and there around the world? He left some graffiti on a wall in London recently. It showed a girl, holding a microphone. Scrawled on the wall were the words: 

“FROM THIS MOMENT DESPAIR ENDS AND TACTICS BEGIN.”

And that microphone held by the kid? It’s features logo of the activist, take-it-to-the-streets group Extinction Rebellion.

Young folks have been taking it to the streets for awhile now. They’re now inviting adults to join them for the planet-wide global climate strike, coming the week of Sept. 20 to 27, 2019. To a planet near you.

Plan a local action where you live at globalclimatestrike.net.

SUBSCRIBE to this podcast wherever podcasts are listed or at our website: changingclimatetimes. substack.com | FOLLOW US on Twitter at @TimesClimate. | FEEDBACK, comments and suggestions to Douglasjohnmartin AT icloud.com

And remember: Change the World. Not the big one. The one in which you live. And love. 

Be well. | Your Curator, Concierge and Host Douglas John Imbrogno 

As the World Burns

Indigenous wisdom on megafires as the Lungs of the World blaze | ISSUE 22, Aug. 23, 2019

QUICK/READ | The ‘Lungs of the World’ are burning and you can see it from outer space. Seasonal fires are not new in the Amazon rainforest. But the scope of mega-fires happening now are. They are more extreme from Brazilian politics and beef production for the mega-fast food industry. What to do? Consider a beef boycott. Or at least cut back by heading beyond burgers. And what does Dr. Banksy prescribe for eco-despair? Read his diagnosis below. Follow us on Twitter at @TimesClimate. Subscribe to this newsletter and podcast at changingclimatetimes.substack.com.

ONE | Coughing Up ‘The Lungs of the World’

As Ryan Hagan notes in the recent issue of his Crowdsourcing Sustainability newsletter: “Civilization’s house is on fire and needs to be put out ASAP.” (Subscribe here to get his informed weekly newsletter and join Ryan’s effort to spur collective action on climate change.)

To be even more specific, the world’s lungs are on fire.

You’d have to be a cave dweller or living inside a Fortress of Solitude to be unaware of the mega-fires burning through the #AmazonRainforest. Amazonia, as it’s sometimes called, includes one-third of the world’s remaining rainforests. It’s so big it produces 20 percent of Earth's total oxygen, which is why the Amazon rainforest is called "the Lungs of the World."

To visualize its size, the Amazon rainforest is about the size of the 48 contiguous United States. It sprawls across no less than 40 percent of the whole South American continent. The current fires are so widespread they can be seen from outer space:

You’ll hear pushback from climate deniers that such fires are seasonal in Amazonia. But as Greenpeace forest campaigner Juman Kubba told the BBC in this audio piece, “Why Is the Amazon Burning?”, the politics of Brazil and corporate supply lines that feed the maw of fast-food chains, play a key role in torching the Amazon.

Kubba said there has been a 145 percent increase in fires in 2019 compared to last year, with the rise to power of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. As the BBC piece notes:

Forest fires are common from July to October. But activists say Brazilian President Bolsonaro’s policies have encouraged farmers to clear land for crops or grazing—resulting in an increase in fires.

“The scale of this is new,” says Kubba. “The rate which were seeing fires is unprecedented. That’s incredible growth … This is the lungs of the planet that are on fire.”

She then makes an important point—one that points directly to what many of us put in our mouths.

Vast sections of the Amazon rainforest are being burned out to raise crops linked to international trade. Says Kubba: “When we go to big fast-food giants like KFC, McDonalds or Burger King, the burgers that we eat will be coming from animals that are fed on animal feed which is grown in places like Brazil.”

And that can be part of the solution, she says. Those fast-food mega-corporations “have tremendous power to influence what is being done and not done in Brazil,” says Kubba. “So, we should be asking them to change their ways.”

At the level of international trade, that also means putting a hold on trade agreements, Kubba says, until "Amazonia is protected and we really have environmental and human rights protection at the heart of trade deals.”

TWO | Enter the Boycott

Wait. You mean my double cheeseburger is part of the problem?

For more on that, let’s turn to a thread on the topic by writer Nylah Burton. Click the thread open down below. If you’re not on Twitter, let’s summarize in a single sentence: “If you want to do something about the #AmazonRainforest and the killing of indigenous people, the easiest and most impactful thing you can do is stop eating beef.”

Now, that sounds way too easy. Yet Burton is not being glib and superficial. Just as the taste of the ocean can be found in a single drop of its water, a single hamburger—multiplied by the billions—can contribute to the collapse of the Lungs of the World.

Burton wrote a Aug. 23, 2019 piece for Medium’s Tenderly, expanding on her thread above. The title is just as pointed as her thread: “The Amazon Rainforest Is Burning and You Can Help: Stop Eating Beef: The time for change is right now.”

A brief interruption here. A word here about my lovely wife.

She has patiently watched me craft a beachhead as a teensy climate change communicator (and recent climate podcaster). Whenever I talk about my climate-comm efforts, her standard reply is: “Just tell me what to do!”

Burton is telling folks what to do. At the risk of sending you packing to #CatsofInstagram, please bear with me as Burton lays out her argument:

The boycott is a tried and true method of resistance. But if you live in Europe, China, the United States, Canada, or Australia, you may think your boycott can’t help save the Amazon rainforest, or support the Indigenous people of Brazil.

But your money—especially if you eat beef and other meats—is almost certainly funding the degradation of the Amazon rainforest.

The Articulation of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil (APIB) released a comprehensive report titled “Complicity In Destruction II: How Northern Consumers and Financiers Enable Bolsonaro’s Assault on the Brazilian Amazon.” The report details the Indigenous-led call for people in the aforementioned countries to boycott certain Brazilian products and businesses that invade their lands and engage in illegal deforestation for profit.

The APIB report says that “Ranching alone leads to approximately 80% of Amazon deforestation, with 80% of Amazon forests cleared since 2014 being occupied by cattle,” and bringing in $5.4 billion for Brazil in 2017. The report also implicates the soy industry in deforestation, saying that in 2017, Brazilian soy generated $31 billion.”

Eloy Terena, APIB’s legal counsel, said: “Traders in Europe and North America can help by cutting ties with these bad Brazilian actors, thus sending a clear signal to Jair Bolsonaro that the rest of the world will not tolerate his policies.”

Burton’s article goes on to note:

There are many Brazilian products that are contributing to deforestation, like timber and fossil fuels. But beef is an incredibly easy product to boycott—barring any medical or cultural needs that require beef consumption, of course.

THREE | Getting Beyond Beef

Unlike most veggie burger substitutes, Beyond Burgers are made of pea protein, not soy.


It may be a bridge too far for lifelong, committed carnivores to immediately stop eating beef cold turkey. (Apologies if I just started your saliva glands salivating at the idea of cold turkey sandwiches.)

But for those folks deepening awareness of the relation between mega-corporation meat, climate change and Amazonian deforestation, perhaps crack open that door by first cutting back. And voting for non-beef vegetarian substitutes like Burger King’s Impossible Burger (which is soy-based, which has its own seperate issues.) But kudos to one fast-food giant for baby steps.

A personal note. My household claims no high moral ground. My wife and I have been vegetarians for a long while, but I know how hard it might be to boycott, if not end, the eating of beef.

But test out a boycott, if not a transition from beef, by trying the pretty amazing Beyond Burgers. Unlike most other “veggie” hamburger-like patties made from soy, Beyond Burgers are made of pea protein. Their recently released version 2.0, which added an even fattier blend, is plain scrumptious.

PS: And that blood in the frying pan? Elsie the Cow and tracts of rainforest were not sacrificed for your Beyond Burger. It’s beet juice. PSS: And no, I’m not on retainer for Beyond Burgers. But the company is welcome to send me any new products they launch. Isn’t it time for Beyond Tofurkey?

FOUR | Let’s Control Ourselves

Unlike what’s happening in Amazonia, there is a wise use of fire in this climate-changing age.

Below is a superb use of illustration to make clear a point about the practice of prescribed burns in our era of mega-fires fueled by climate change. In less than 30 panels, this graphic comic-style explainer teaches how indigenous folk used fire to rejuvenate the landscapes of their homelands.

See the whole graphic at this link at The Nib.


Prescribed burns are, of course, a widely used tool in modern forest and prairie management. But we’ve created tinderboxes in many regions from ill-conceived fire suppression and unwise growth. Stroke the matchstick of climate change—and deadly infernos explode from all that densely packed biomass.

See the full version by Xulin Wang, in the Aug. 16, 2019 issue of The Nib: “Prescribed Burn: To prevent increasingly massive wildfires we need to rethink our approach to forest management.” The piece showcases a welcome indigenous contribution to the climate change conversation. Plus, it’s a master class in climate communication, using graphics, sourced material and old wisdom to capture the attention of readers.

FIVE | Strike Now

Banksy paints some good advice.

The pace of climate change and fears for our future can feel overwhelming. There’s a reason there’s a growing field devoted to “eco-despair.” But taking action, however small and local—or maybe especially local, in your town—is one key antidote.

Or, as prescribed by Doctor Banksy, in the graffiti above on a London wall:

“FROM THIS MOMENT DESPAIR ENDS AND TACTICS BEGIN.”

Note that microphone held by the kid. It’s the logo of the activist, take-it-to-the-streets group Extinction Rebellion.

Young folks have been taking it to the streets for awhile now. They invite adults to join them for a planet-wide global climate strike coming the week of Sept. 20 to 27, 2019. 

Plan a local action where you live at globalclimatestrike.net.

PS | You Promised Cartoons

I did.

If this issue was forwarded to you, subscribe to the newsletter & podcast at: changingclimatetimes.substack.com | Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes and wherever you listen to podcasts. | Follow us on Twitter at @TimesClimate | Send feedback and suggestions to: douglasjohnmartin AT icloud.com.

And remember: Change the World. Not the big one.. The one in which you live. And love.

Be well. | CCT Curator, Concierge and Host Douglas John Imbrogno

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